Never Give In


“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour [sic] and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” ~Winston Churchill

The large ram stood undaunted by its formidable foe. Though his nose was bleeding steadily, he set his posture and indicated he was up for the contest once again. In an instant, both rams reared and lunged toward each other. As their horns came crashing together, you could hear the distinctive sound as it echoed across the canyon walls. They faced off for a minute or so and then appeared to become disinterested in the fight. To the casual bystander, it looked as if they had given up on their objective, giving the impression that they were more concerned with grazing than vying for breeding rights. This behavior was part of the ritual. The experienced observer would realize that another challenge to mix it up would happen in a matter of minutes.


Bighorn rams will repeatedly butt heads until one establishes dominance as the breeding season hits its peak in late November into December. Something inside of them will drive them to battle over and over until there is a clear champion. I have watched them clash dozens of times in a span of a few hours. I have seen a ram with a damaged eye and missing one side of his horn chide other rams to provoke a skirmish. Despite his lack of advantage, there was a “never give in” spirit programmed into his DNA to compete, even if it was a losing endeavor.  I witnessed another ram, that had a large gash in his forehead, continue to tussle until he prevailed.


If I have learned nothing else in the past dozen years, it the meaning of perseverance. Life will bring the unexpected and with it pain, tragedy and circumstances that have no rhyme nor reason. It requires resolve to take a stand and determination to push through the predicaments. When you realize that those things that were meant to harm you are the things that will shape you and refine you, it will give you the strength to carry on and press through to the other side. The trials will test your fortitude and help you to gain perspective. Despite setbacks and obstacles to your plans you must latch on to hopes, dreams and goals and fight with everything within to flourish. You may have to fight through sorrow and failure, fear and loneliness. You may get knocked down many times, but with a “never give in” attitude you can overcome the darkest dilemmas. The result will build resilience and prove your mettle while developing your rock-solid character.


Wild sheep will brawl with unwavering tenacity despite injury, exhaustion and hunger or even being outmatched. The future existence of the species is incumbent on the amount of fight and strength that is in the ram. Grit and steadfastness are needed in the unforgiving landscape in which they live as they endure extreme environmental conditions and threats from agile and wily predators. It is survival of the fittest. Only those with the “never give in” attitude will prevail.


I have met many people in life who have faced adversity on a much greater scale than I could imagine. I have great admiration for the ones who refuse to be defeated, but instead, embrace life with passion. Common characteristics among them are humility and an ability to find the positive in the middle of the negative.  Out of the hardships, they seem to exude wisdom and will use the misfortunes in their own lives to help others going through a similar circumstance.


There is only one opportunity at the life we have been granted. It will have ups and downs, mountain top moments and valley experiences, triumphs and disappointments. The key to overcoming is to find something worth holding on to that can sustain you until you have weathered the storm.  As Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”  Look for the good when evil tries to overtake you, remain optimistic when pessimism and gloom try to choke out all hope and smother your dreams. Don’t let negative circumstances drag you down and defeat you but instead develop a “never give in” spirit.


In Oct of 1941 at the height of World War II, Winston Churchill gave a speech at a school he had previously attended. Though England was on the verge of defeat, they kept battling, unwilling to give in to the pressure their foe was putting on them.  They knew that they needed dogged determination to defeat the enemy forces. One of his famous quotes was to be found in the speech, “Never give in…”. To other nations, Britain appeared to be on the verge of collapse. Under the leadership of Churchill, the country rallied and endured until victory was secured.


“There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer…” Churchill concluded the speech with the following quote. “Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days – the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.” ~Winston Churchill

The Lonesome Road Warrior   

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The Other Side of the Storm

GTNP Teton Range Pano Sunset 1

“After a storm, comes a calm.” ~Matthew Henry

I was driving along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park a few years ago and saw the most beautiful sunset against the back drop of a large thunderstorm. I found out later that the storm had dumped several inches of rain in Aurora, had produced large hail, lightning and damaging winds. It was a great lesson on perspective. Those caught up in it could only see the destruction surrounding them. Their concern was to take shelter and get out of the storm while it took its toll destroying many structures and a lot of property in its path. God quickened me to see it from a different perspective. Looking back toward the large cloud, I could see the beautiful colors of the sunset. For you see, I was looking at the storm from a different vantage point.



Life can be tempestuous and turbulent. Everyone will go through trying times and troubles. When we are in the middle of calamity, we can’t see our way out. All we can see is the desolation and destruction attempting to destroy and dishearten us. But on the other side of the storm, there will be a different perspective for you to view what has passed and focus on the beauty of what has been left behind.



There are certain things that all people have in common. If we live long enough, we will see sorrow and pain as well as failure and disappointment. It often comes by way of some catastrophe or misfortune. It can leave us feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. We wonder if our circumstances will ever get better. We can either let these situations defeat us or we can endure in the hope of a brighter future.



With perspective, we begin to see the gift we have truly been given. It may be a voice of wisdom and comfort to aid a fellow soul. It is something we can use to help others who maybe going through the same thing we went through. It may be just what was needed for growth in an area of our life, a chance to change a way of thinking about a matter or it may bring a much-needed change to our character. 


One day, I had driven into an area in the aftermath of a forest fire that occurred on the edge of Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park. The fire had burned and purged much of the overgrowth and scarred and burned many trees. It looked barren and bleak. As I walked around there was not much that was capturing my attention until I looked down and saw the new growth budding, the rich green grass growing in the unfiltered sunlight.


If you are currently going through some hardships or trying times, keep pressing on until you get to the other side. Valuable and beautiful things are being deposited in your life. With perspective, you may see the thing that was trying to destroy you will be the thing that becomes a tool for the next chapter in your life.


Rainbow Cloud

Truly there can be beauty on the other side of your storm.


The Lonesome Road Warrior       

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“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.” John Lubbock


Full Moon Rising at Balanced Rock – Arches National Park UT

Across the western United States, you will find the greatest concentration of National Parks and Monuments and some of the most interesting geological features in the world.  It is there that you will see how the forces of nature have sculpted and carved some of the most magnificent designs and structures that the eye could behold. The ever-changing earth and its seasons have fashioned landmarks that have endured through the ages and have become the subject for the artisan and nature enthusiast alike.  When one looks back to the process of how these wonders were formed, one can see patterns and examples for life lessons as well. As the forces of nature shaped and formed these beautiful landscapes, the challenges and tribulations in our life can transform us into a “monument” of inspiration that others will admire.

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Monument Canyon – Colorado National Monument CO

Fittingly called “The Monument”, The Colorado National Monument is a majestic landscape in Western Colorado on the northern edge of the Uncompahgre Plateau. It consists of nine distinct rock formations that rise along the canyon walls below the mesas and buttes. These spectacular structures were formed over many eons, being slowly exposed by the relentless process of erosion from the wind and rain. These pillars and spires are a testament of the power to withstand the raging tempest and extreme elements. The rock that remains steadfast was solidified through intense heat and pressure. It is connected to a foundation deep within the earth.

It serves as a metaphor of life itself. Over time, life has a way of wearing you down. It could be weariness from troubled relationships, disappointments from unmet dreams, chronic health issues or sadness from a loss of a loved one.  Intense storms of emotional trauma and the winds of affliction seem to be relentless and will crash into us like waves pounding one after another against the seashore. The heat and pressure of our circumstances can overwhelm and frustrate us.


The Teton Range – Grand Teton National Park WY

The Teton Mountain Range in western Wyoming towers above the valley below bisected by the Snake River.  These peaks were also formed out of much turmoil as earthquakes shook the foundations of the earth. The subsequent pressure exposed weaknesses in the earth’s crust and caused an upheaval of rock formed by intense heat and pressure. These magnificent looking mountains were shaped by glacial ice flows that carved, scraped and rubbed away that which was not firmly fixed. The wind and rain further eroded anything not anchored leaving behind a very distinctive and beautiful scene.

There are times when the foundations in our lives will be shaken to the core. We will be blindsided by situations and our vulnerabilities will be revealed. Many times, there is an upheaval in our lives that threatens to pull us off our moorings. Perhaps, the turmoil that besets us is an opportunity for reflection. It is an opening to assess and address those defects and shortcomings and can allow us to make the necessary adjustments to our character. Unforeseen circumstances will grind away at our resolve and erode those aspects that are not durable and fixed. The intense storms and winds of affliction eat away at the weaknesses and flaws revealing who we really are.

So often we detest and despise the hardships that come our way, but it is those very things that remove the unstable and unnecessary layers and lets us see what is anchoring us. As more pressure and heat is applied, we are afforded an opportunity to become more resilient and more resolute in our ability to stand and to be rock solid in our character. Given enough time, we become “monuments” that others can look to and admire and see that there is a hope of a better day ahead in their own lives. It is a process that can be painful, but it results in something more beautiful.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park CO

When we take a drive through God’s glorious creation, we see the beauty and don’t think much about the process of how it came to be. It is often the case when we come across a soul who has been tried in the fire, and pressed beyond measure. We see the meekness and the quietness of their spirit. We see a light that draws us to them.  There is something about them that is different, something majestic. They stand as a “Monument”


Islands in the Sky – Canyonlands National Park UT


The Lonesome Road Warrior       

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The Hope of Spring

“Nature chose for a tool, not the earthquake or lightning to rend and split asunder, not the stormy torrent or eroding rain, but the tender snow-flowers noiselessly falling through unnumbered centuries.” ~ John Muir 

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Spring brings so much hope. The days are getting longer, the sunshine beats down on things that have been dormant and there is an unseen process that is bringing forth new life. The cold dread of winter that has brought everything to a standstill begins to lose its icy grip and the cycle of life begins afresh. It is amazing that in the dormant season, a time when all seems to have died, life is springing forth.


I was thinking the other day how after the rut for deer, elk and bighorn ends in the late fall, we enter the cold and dreary winter where everything looks dead, where the short days and frigid nights rob the warmth from every living creature. It is a time when there is a lack of abundance for foraging and the energy spent to find sustenance is great. But a process is underway, and in the spring when life can be sustained, the bighorn ewes bring forth their lambs, the elk their calves and deer their fawns. The tender nutrient-rich grass of spring sprouting up through the late season snow is what will give the next generation what is needed to survive and thrive.


Bighorn ewe with its young lamb on Mt Evans Colorado 


Life is much like the seasons. There are periods where it thrives and everything seems to go our way, when every aspiration and desire seems to come to fruition. But these times are contrasted by periods that seem bleak and desolate, times when everything is dismal and dreary. A time where nothing goes our way and every hope is dashed. The winter season in life will strike with unrelenting force trying to break and disquiet the spirit.

There is a time when a dream is being born, when a promise is given. And it seems that before it takes flight, a winter season occurs, a dry and barren spell overtakes us and seems to choke the very life out of us. That is why we need to hold on to our dreams and promises to keep them alive. Sometimes it feels like they have died, but they are going through a process waiting to come to fruition.


Elk calf – Kawuneeche Valley – RMNP


Though it seems like the winter season will never end, there is a hope of spring. The cycle will start anew. Those things placed in the depth of our souls will begin to grow having endured the harsh, dismal winter season and life returns again.


Moose calf wading in the Colorado River – Kawuneeche Valley – RMNP


The Lonesome Road Warrior       

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A Road Trip is in order


“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~Helen Keller

The term “road trip” conjures up different images to different people. It could be the family vacation many of us remember taking as children, the rite of passage for the teenager not yet ready to take on the cruel world of responsibility or the uncharted journey thought up on a whim. It is the spontaneous act of the daring soul that has been portrayed in many books and films. It can be a set destination or a capriciously and arbitrarily chosen direction. It can be a catalyst to clear one’s mind or a desperate action to escape the problems of life. It is at the very heart of adventure as we explore places off the beaten path, revisit memories from our past or whittle down our bucket lists.

There may be some unexpected challenges and unforeseen difficulties that come your way out on the open highway. You may even get lost or sidetracked. Each is an occasion to test your mettle and resolve. These are the very things that will make the trip memorable as the stories are recounted for years to come. There will be surprises and disappointments and discoveries that will become new traditions.

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Sunset over the Teton Range – Grand Teton National Park WY


The term also can describe our life. We travel down this road not always knowing what we will encounter. Our path is sometimes blocked by insurmountable obstacles or forks in the road that lead to unexpected destinations, difficult choices and hard decisions. At times, we are forced to take detours and are not sure where we will end up. But there is something exhilarating about this road trip if we will embrace it and let it lead us to a better place to enrich our lives.


Bighorn Sheep near Georgetown CO


For me, the road trip has become a place of solace and introspection to sort out life’s issues. It has been set against the backdrop of the American west where early explorers ventured out not knowing exactly what they would find. The early trails that the pioneers forged in their quest for a better life have been replaced by interstate highways, county roads and forest service trails. It has also become a place where I have found hidden gems of history and gorgeous vistas. I have also rekindled nostalgic memories and made new discoveries. Along the way, I picked up passions that had been dormant for so many years.


Blacksmith Shop – South Park City – Fairplay, CO


There is only one chance at this gift called life. There is a world full of wonder, opportunities and adventures waiting for you. The road trip is the perfect answer in this over-connected, information-overloaded world. Grab a map or plug in those GPS coordinates and pick a destination. It can be something simple and inexpensive. Get out and visit those out of the way attractions and relics of a bygone era and dish up a slice of Americana.

I think a road trip is in order.

The Lonesome Road Warrior       

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In Search of a Butt I Ended Up in a Rut

I have lived in Colorado my whole life but had never spotted a bighorn sheep until 2009 while I was hiking in a canyon in western Colorado. Since then, I have seen this magnificent animal many times and have learned about its winter range during the rut in the fall. It has led to some of the most spectacular opportunities to view and photograph this majestic and rugged ungulate worthy to be deemed Colorado’s state mammal.


Desert Bighorn – In The Monument

I had driven up I-70 to the exit that leads to two of Colorado’s popular 14ers, Grays and Torreys Peak. I was a bit disappointed hoping my new-found method would fetch the prized trophy, the Rocky Mountain bighorn. A few weeks earlier I had seen its cousin in a canyon in the Colorado National Monument. It prompted me to do some research as to where and how to find this creature that had eluded me all these years. The result of the investigation revealed that Rocky Mountain bighorn were prevalent along the main east-west corridors through the mountains. The tip for finding them was to look for one of its prominent features — a big white butt. This is what the article indicated would catch my eye since the main color of the bighorn blended in so well with the drab hillside.

I headed back toward Denver feeling somewhat defeated. I had learned that persistence was the key to finding the wildlife of Colorado. Some days sightings were abundant, other days were fruitless. Nevertheless, I glanced across the road to the north side of the highway hoping that my fortune would change. As I was passing the Starbucks in Downieville, a glimmer of white briefly caught my attention. Could it be or was my mind playing tricks on me? I had to drive for a couple of miles before I could turn around and come back to see if my eyes had deceived me. As I pulled into the parking lot of the Starbucks, I looked up and saw her. It was a single ewe.


The first ewe I spotted next to the Starbucks in Downieville, CO



As I glanced up the hill, I discovered four more ewes. Looking to my left, I spotted the unmistakable curl of the ram’s horn. Within the next five minutes, two other males joined the entourage. I was furiously snapping photos to capture images of the scene. Out of nowhere, a fourth ram that was the largest of the herd, came bounding down to defend his harem. The younger rams made a few feeble attempts to coax the ewes away but their endeavors were quickly dashed by this dominant male. What would transpire over the next several minutes absolutely amazed me.

The younger males squared off and began to posture pushing one another and trying to provoke a fight. The two rams turned away, briefly grazed in the tall grass, and then stepped off paces as if they had accepted the challenge to a duel. They turned toward each other, and in a quick moment they reared and lunged at one another. Their horns came together sending a distinctive sound resonating through the mountain valley. They backed off and took another pass once again striking each other in a head-on collision. I was witnessing something I had only seen on the nature programs on TV. It was taking place 50 feet above me as I stood beside a Starbucks, a few hundred feet from a major Interstate. Two hours and several hundred shots later, the fading light closed its curtain on this dramatic scene.


This ram dominated the Downieville  herd for a few years. This image was taken two years after I first spotted him in 2009




It was a once in a lifetime experience or so I thought. Two weeks later as I drove up Clear Creek Canyon on Highway 6, I passed another place where the sheep frequented. I spotted a “ram jam” of cars pulled off to the side of the road. I looked up and saw a few males bedded down on the steep rocky cliffs above me. They appeared like regal statues. It looked like something one might expect to see in ancient Egypt or in a posh neighborhood.

As I looked back and forth, I saw more ewes and a few lambs. In all, there was a herd of fifteen sheep. Would I get an encore — a second great performance? Two of the males stood up and faced off and their horns came together once again as the hollow echo thundered down the canyon walls. They dug in their hooves and proceeded to push each other on the narrow precipice above, each intent on showing the other its prowess and strength. This time, the show took place directly next to Kermit’s Roadhouse, a biker bar that sat near the entrance to westbound I-70, just east of Idaho Springs.


Two rams squaring off on a narrow vertical hillside

My first introduction to the Rocky Mountain bighorn was memorable. Whether you are interested in photography or just like to observe wildlife, the bighorn rut is something to be added to the bucket list of Colorado late fall activities. Take a drive up Clear Creek Canyon on Highway 6 or west on I-70 between Idaho Springs and Georgetown or do some research to find where you can view the sheep in your area. Start looking for the big white butt. You may be surprised what you find. You might even end up in a rut.

The Lonesome Road Warrior       

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Let the Adventures Begin

Chronicles of the Lonesome Road Warrior is the blog I have decided to write as a way of sharing some of my thoughts, experiences and photos. My goal is to encourage you to get out and live life and take advantage of the treasures that have been deposited within driving distance. Muhammad Ali once said, “Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right.” Life will pass you by and it is a choice as to whether you engage it fully or let it slip away. My hope is that the blog will inspire you through my imagery to venture out to see and experience the world around you.

Join me as I take you along on my exploits!

The Lonesome Road Warrior       

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